Capricious appointments create US policy confusion

By Xu Hailin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/5/29 20:03:40

The disconnect between US President Donald Trump and John Bolton, his national security adviser, has flooded into the public realm in recent days, making the world more confused about US foreign policy. The capricious version of President Trump seems to be making a comeback.

During a four-day visit to Japan that ended Tuesday, Trump's remarks about Iran and North Korea "contradicted Bolton on high-stakes confrontations" with the two countries, reported the New York Times.

In late March last year, Trump was "pleased to announce" Bolton as his new, also third, national security adviser. Chinese analysts believed they were a perfect match as both of them advocated that the US should hold a strong stance against its rivals. 

Maybe we shouldn't be too surprised by the disparity that has spilled over in such a short time. In just one year, 2018, Trump reappointed five top aides including secretary of state, national security adviser and attorney general.

The disorder of Trump nominating his cabinet members has left US foreign policy in a mess. We can see that havoc particularly in the trade talks with China. Trump repeatedly changed his mind at the eleventh hour and left the deal hanging in the air. We have to say such capriciousness has ruined the world's trust in the US.

Mutual trust is the best bond in international relations. Relying on trust, different countries have jointly worked out measures to cope with global challenges and they are able to cooperate and develop amid complex international landscapes.

Trump doesn't buy that. He doesn't think trust is so important. He would fire at will a cabinet member he disliked and nominate a new one, and thus cause disorder in foreign policy. No one knows what he wants or what he will do. Hence US allies dare not fully trust the US.

Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, said Trump's trip to Europe in July was "an unmitigated disaster." During that trip, Trump slammed Germany and other NATO allies for not meeting their spending commitments and repeatedly questioned the relevance of NATO in the current world. German foreign minister Heiko Maas said, "We can no longer fully rely on the White House." In the meantime, European Council President Donald Tusk noted, "Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that many."

The abrupt resignation of US former national security adviser Jim Mattis has spread panic among US allies in the Asia-Pacific including South Korea. Before Mattis found himself at odds with Trump, trust between Washington and Seoul had already appeared to be melting away because of their different attitude toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Moreover, an October Pew Research Center survey found 70 percent of people in 25 nations surveyed do not have confidence in Trump's handling of international issues.

Trust is the foundation for countries to get along with each other. Deliberately and arrogantly hurting trust will eventually make the US a loner and lose its leading position in the tide of globalization. 

What is really good for the US? Trump should figure that out carefully.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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